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danebury hill fort

Men, women and children may all have had to fight off invaders by hurling sling stones. The herb rich grassland supports some of our most beautiful blue butterflies. As well as being a very fine Iron Age hill fort, Danebury is also one of the the few areas of publicly accessible unenclosed downland in this part of Hampshire. Danebury Ring - Defensive Ditch - geograph.org.uk - 936234.jpg 480 × 640; 111 KB. Follow the story trail to learn more about some of the dangers faced by the inhabitants of Danebury Hill Fort during the Iron Age. Cunliffe interprets the ramparts as essentially defensive, although he concedes that they may have been a means of displaying wealth and power, as Danebury would have been visible for miles around. [31] There is some debate whether hill forts were purely defensive structures, and to what extent they were occupied. The V-shaped ditch was 6 m (20 ft) deep and between 11 m (36 ft) and 12 m (39 ft) wide; the size of the previous ditch is unknown as re-cutting the ditch has made it hard to ascertain. All of a similar size, the hillforts were generally equally spaced, commanding similar sized territories and resources. [24] Also in this period, the southern part of the fort became populated with four- and six-post structures, probably granaries, replacing the earlier roundhouses. The Danebury archaeological excavations, led by Professor Barry Cunliffe, from Southampton University, took place between 1969 and 1988. The pits were dug from the chalk using tools such as mattocks. Payne, Corney, & Cunliffe (2007), pp. It is a ' type-site ', or model for understanding Iron Age hillforts in general. Login with Gmail. The fort was supplied with grain from the surrounding farmsteads, and could hold 20 times more food than the average farmstead, indicating Danebury had a higher status than local farmsteads. They were also law makers, teachers, storytellers and medicine men. Danebury was remodelled several times, making it more complex and resulting in it becoming a "developed" hill fort. Please visit our COVID-19 webpages for the latest updates and changes to services, as well as for information and guidance. The trail is primarily used for walking and nature trips. Aerial archaeology has allowed us to map these systems, which appear as ‘crop marks’ or different colours in the soil. Storage pits abound in Danebury Ring: 2,400 have been discovered during the excavation so far and we might expect another 2,000 in the unexcavated area. It is impossible to state with certainty every significant event in the hill fort’s history, but where an event leaves an archaeologically identifiable trace, a general chronology can be established, although dates are much less easy to establish. Length 1.6 mi Elevation gain 226 ft Route type Loop. [23] Most of the inhabitants deserted Danebury, and groups of bodies were disposed of in charnel pits. Danebury is one of the most studied Iron Age hill forts in Europe and a Scheduled Ancient Monument. It is a Scheduled Monument and a Local Nature Reserve called Danebury Hillfort. Extensively excavated by Barry Cunliffe over a number of seasons – the digital archive of which can be found in the Danebury Excavations Digital Archive, oddly enough. In the medieval period, their construction was attributed variously to iconic figures such as King Arthur, King Alfred, the Danes, Julius Caesar, and even giants. Some of the burials uncovered at Danebury are thought to have been sacrificial. [5][6], Until the 19th century very little was known about hill forts, as none had been excavated and their original purpose had been long forgotten. 'Iron Age' describes the period between the end of the Bronze Age and the start of the Roman period. From the hill fort there are magnificent views including several other hill forts and prehistoric burial mounds. A community of 300 to 400 people lived here for more than 400 years. Their pagan belief was that the gods lived in rivers, trees or other natural features. [36] This is further supported by the fact that the hill fort was used as a "central place" where people could gather to trade and store commodities. Danebury Hill, on top of which the hill fort sits, rises to 143 m (469 ft). The surrounding country has light soil that would have been easily cultivated. The herb rich grassland supports some of our most beautiful blue butterflies. When the ditch was cut, the chalk rubble fill was used to build the rampart, along with some of the local clay soil. [1] The site, covering 5 hectares (12 acres), was excavated by Barry Cunliffe in the 1970s. 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